Monday 7 October 2013

Albania: The Labëria Highlands & Ionian Coast – Introduction

A small group trekking holiday focusing on the region south of Vlorë in the Albanian southwest, with time split between the valley of the Shushica river and the “Albanian Riviera” between Qeparo and the Llogora National Park. 

Mt Çikës

After a previous trekking trip to the north of the country (the Accursed Mountains) and another to the Montenegrin/Kosovan side of the same range (the Prokletije), this trip – offering a chance to explore in the south of the country – came as a natural follow-on.  

The mountains hereabouts may not be as dramatic or jagged in profile as in the north, nor do they form an extended range in quite the same way as the Accursed Mountains around Thethi, Valbona and the northern borders. Rather, they rise in the form of more discrete, identifiable massifs, with the highest tops reaching to well over 2000m. As such, they still provide ample opportunity for trekking, as our party of twelve plus guides were about to find out.

The Lightening Mountains

Many of the routes we intended to follow were regularly used by walkers up until twenty years ago, since which time the emphasis for outdoor adventure and tourism seems to have switched to the north, and these paths have become largely forgotten to trekkers – until now. Billed as a “recce” with an outline yet flexible programme, part of the appeal of this trip was that we would explore some of these forgotten ways to discover whether a workable trekking itinerary could be established for future trips. If so, it could re-open the area to opportunities for eco-tourism and offer inquisitive trekkers an insight into this unfrequented and off-the-beaten-track corner of Europe. 

Map: Vektor 1:150,000 Scale Vlora.